Troma is one of those things that I had always heard about but never ventured into, I have a vague memory of seeing Tromeo and Juliet but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about it so I’m comfortable saying that Poultrygeist is my first step into the world of Lloyd Kaufman and Troma and… well. I don’t know what I could have possible expected.
Starring: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, and Allyson Sereboff
Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman
So, to start right off the bat, it seems kind of pointless to talk about the movie being offensive. There is no shortage of slurs or racist or homophobic jokes from start to finish. The whole thing is in extremely poor taste, and that is Troma and Kaufman’s whole thing. So, I’m not going to do any pearl clutching about this and instead take it for what it is and acknowledge straight up: the movie is offensive – and it is trying as hard as it possibly can to be offensive. It wants you to be upset by it, and it does a pretty great job doing that. Truly, it pushes that boundary so far that there are these glimmers of brilliant satire, though it’s not always clear who the joke is. Unfortunately, the simplest comparison is to South Park, where everyone is being skewered, and so … no one can really be offended? I guess? It weirdly also makes the movie feel about 30 years older than it is, that’s down to the quality of the camera as well, but something about the tone makes it feel like such an old movie.
Off colour jokes and uncomfortable n-words aside, where the movie shines is in the gore and practical effects. They’re not realistic in the slightest, but holy fucking shit are they fun. The chicken zombies are fun, the barrage of spraying blood and slime is fun, the gross sexual body horror shit is fun, there’s a lot to like here that you’ll have fun with if you kind of go in understanding what Troma’s whole deal is. Kaufman is kind of a horror/schlock Mel Brooks, cranked up to 11 and it is going to work for some and not for others.
So the question is, did this first foray into the gross world of Troma work for me?
No it didn’t.
Honestly, the movie is what it is, you know what you’re going to get and it is exactly what I expected in that regard. The big problem with Poultrygeist, though, is that it is too fucking long. Holy god damn shit. This movie with this story and tone needed to be… 75 minutes, maybe 80 if you really felt like you had something to say. This movie is an hour and forty two god damn minutes – that is so much closer to two hours than it has any right to be, and it absolutely crushes the movie.
The final battle with the chicken zombies in the restaurant goes on for so long and completely kills the wild anarchic pace that it had set up to that point. The movie essentially comes to a grinding halt and spends the third act just wasting everyone’s time. More than once I thought “surely this has to be the ending” and it would go on another 10 minutes. It’s really too bad, because the movie basically works for what it is. You could have cut off 30-40 minutes and lost nothing.
This is one of those things where your mileage may vary, but honestly a movie that started off with a kind of fun and punk rock energy sure careened off a cliff and turned into a real fucking waste of my time.
You’ll notice as well, that I didn’t mention the musical elements of the movie – because they are basically inconsequential and pointless, but I guess to make this technically a musical so…everyone wins.